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Halictus tripartitus Cockerell, 1895


Scientific Name: Halictus tripartitus Cockerell, 1895

Common Name: Tripartite Sweat Bee


Halictus tripartitus Cockerell, 1895: 63 [♀].

     Holotype ♀. USA, New Mexico, Santa Fé, 27 June 1894, on alfalfa in Mr. Andrew’s orchard [USNM no. 28000].

Halictus meliloti Cockerell, 1895: 67 [♀]. Synonymy by Sandhouse (1941: 35).

     Holotype ♀. USA, New Mexico, Mesilla Valley, College Farm, 1 May 1895, on Melilotus indica [CAS no. 15613].

Halictus catalinensis Cockerell, 1903: 84 [♀]. Synonymy by Sandhouse (1941: 35).

     Syntypes ♀. USA, California, Catalina Island, Avalon, August 1901, by A. Springer [USNM no. 12062].


Taxonomic notes: Cockerell (1916) discussed males collected at La Jolla, California which he suspected were H. catalinensis Cockerell but was not confident to associate the sexes. Sandhouse (1941: 35) described the ♂.

Cockerell (1895: 67) felt his Halictus meliloti Cockerell, 1895 was close to Halictus tripartitus Cockerell, 1895 (described in the same publication), though felt that the colour and shape of the head distinguished them; Sandhouse (1941: 35) indicated that this species showed considerable variation in size than males, likely linked to eusociality (Packer et al. 2007).

DNA Barcode Index Number (BIN): BOLD:AAF7683, BOLD:AAF7682, BOLD:AAN7874, BOLD:AAU0051

Only two of the BINs are associated with material from Canada: BOLD:AAF7683 includes material from much the northwestern USA and British Columbia; BOLD:AAF7682 includes material from much of the western USA, from Arizona north to British Columbia; BOLD:AAN7874 corresponds to eight specimens from Texas; BOLD:AAU0051 is specific to specimens from southern California and likely corresponds to Halictus catalinensis Cockerell, 1903, or less likely to Halictus harmonius Sandhouse, 1941, which is much smaller (Janjic and Packer 2001); three additional species, Halictus hesperus Smith, 1862, Halictus lutescens Friese, 1921, and Halictus pinguismentus Janjic and Packer, 2001, occur in Mexico. It is clear that additional work on the subgenus is required.

Biology: Though Amdam et al. 2006) indicated that this species was solitary, Packer et al. (2007) indicated that populations in California were at least partially eusocial.

Distribution in Canada: Elwell 2012 [BC]; Elwell et al. 2016 [BC]; Sheffield and Heron 2019 [BC].



Cockerell TDA (1895) New bees of the genus Halictus from New Mexico, U.S.A. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 6 16(91): 63-69.

Cockerell TDA (1903) New bees from southern California and other records. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 2: 84-85.

Elwell SL, Griswold T, Elle E (2016) Habitat type plays a greater role than livestock grazing in structuring shrubsteppe plant–pollinator communities. Journal of Insect Conservation 20(3): 515-525.

Sandhouse GA (1941) The American bees of the subgenus Halictus. Entomologica Americana 21(1): 23-38.

Sheffield CS, Heron JM (2019) The bees of British Columbia (Hymenoptera: Apoidea, Apiformes). Journal of the Entomological Society of British Columbia 115: 44-85.

Elwell SL (2012) The effects of livestock grazing and habitat type on plant-pollinator communities of British Columbia’s Endangered Shrubsteppe. MSc Thesis, Simon Fraser University. X + 110 pp.

Packer L, Gravel AD, Lebuhn G (2007) Phenology and social organization of Halictus (Seladonia) tripartitus (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Journal of Hymenoptera Research 16(2): 281-292.

Amdam GV, Scondes A, Fondrk MK, Page RE (2006) Complex social behaviour derived from maternal reproductive traits. Nature 439: 76-78.

Cockerell TDA (1916) The bees of the Coronado Islands. The Canadian Entomologist 48(2): 54-58.

Janjic J, Packer L (2001) New descriptions of Halictus (Seladonia) from the New World (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Journal of Hymenoptera Research 10(1): 55-75.

Sociality: Variable
Nesting: Ground
Pollen Specialization: Polylectic
Wintering Stage: Mated Female

Crop Preference: Not Available
Non Crop Preference: Not Available

Distribution: Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan
Ecozone: Prairie, Western Interior Basin